If you’ve ever implemented an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for your company, you know it can be a challenging transition and a rewarding change, if implemented properly. Here is a 10 step framework that walks you through high-level steps that will take you from day 1 of planning to launch. Follow this list to ensure yourself a successful ERP implementation.
- Need Assessment
The first step in any ERP implementation is to identify your company’s needs. Start by finding and documenting the critical business processes, inflection points and key performance indicators (KPI). This will help you pinpoint the right ERP solution, as well as the appropriate specialists needed as you go through this important transition. Remember this is about business processes that support the enterprise. While information technology considerations are important, IT shouldn’t be the driver of the analysis.
- Hire a Team of Specialists
Many organizations lack the internal expertise and experience for ERP implementation. You need to consider hiring or contracting with an experienced professional to guide you through the implementation process. This will prevent a lot of headaches and wasted time, as well as giving you the time to focus on other tasks.
- ERP System Evaluation and Selection
Selection of the right ERP solution is one of the most critical steps in the process. The right program depends on your industry, your business needs and your system preferences. One consideration is whether you need an on-premise ERP system or a cloud computing ERP system. Many businesses have made the jump to the cloud. That may be the right solution for you, but understand it’s not always the best option. It will depend on your specific business requirements and your organization’s capacity to support the process. Your ERP consultant can also assist with this decision.
- Prepare for Change
Implementing a new accounting system can be a major change for a company, especially if you’ve never used one in the past. It’s important to stay transparent with your employees about the change and engage them when possible. ERP transitions are as much about changing culture as changing technology.
- Data Preparation
Don’t assume that all of your current data can be converted into the new system. Analyze your current data and decide which pieces need to be converted. After your data is all entered into the ERP database (most databases allow data entry via spreadsheet) you need to clean it up. Review the information database and weed out anything that you deem unnecessary, like old customers or those who are no longer in business. Data integrity is critical to a successful implementation.
- ERP Implementation
After completing the first five steps, it’s time to launch the new manufacturing system. Your ERP consultants have mapped out a specific plan of how to install, configure and optimize the system for your working environment. Plans are bound to change (at least slightly) during this process so always keep your major needs and end goals in mind.
While the performance and integrity of CRM systems have come a long way since their introduction in the 90’s do not assume everything will execute smooth. System and user acceptance testing is a key phase of the implementation process.
- Training & Education
After your system is configured, you need to train you employees on how to use the new program. Try finding a group that specializes in onsite training to make sure everyone is up to speed. You’ll want to make sure your IT team has an extra session of training to know how to handle any tech problems that may arise in the future.
- Go Live!
Once your system has been configured, tested and your employees have been trained, it’s time to go live. You can now safely activate your ERP system. It wouldn’t hurt to do another round of testing after launching, just in case.
- Ongoing Support
Unfortunately, you can’t just install your ERP system and never touch it again. Advanced ERP implementations require time and attention beyond the initial installation. This includes upgrades to your system and general maintenance.